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Japan reactor core may be leaking radioactive material, official saysMarch 25, 2011
Tokyo (CNN) -- Authorities in Japan raised the prospect Friday of a likely breach in the all-important containment vessel of the No. 3 reactor at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a potentially ominous development in the race to prevent a large-scale release of radiation.
Contaminated water likely seeped through the containment vessel protecting the reactor's core, said Hidehiko Nishiyama of the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
Three employees working near the No. 3 reactor Thursday stepped into water that had 10,000 times the amount of radiation typical for a nuclear plant, Nishiyama said. An analysis of the contamination suggests "some sort of leakage" from the reactor core, signaling a possible break of the containment vessel that houses the core, he said.
The workers have been hospitalized and work inside the reactor building has been halted, according to the agency.
Work inside two other reactor buildings also had to stop and workers had to be pulled back Friday after the discovery of high levels of radiation in water at those locations, a Tokyo Electric Power Company official said Saturday. Water is still being pumped into the containment vessels, the utility official said.
Nuclear power experts cautioned against reading too much into the newest development, saying the workers exposed to radioactive water might not suffer injuries any more serious than a sunburn.
Moreover, evidence of radioactivity in the water around the plant is not necessarily surprising given the amount of water sprayed onto and pumped into the reactors, said Ian Hutchinson, professor of nuclear science and engineering at the Massachusetts institute of Technology.
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The reactor thought to be leaking contaminated water is the same one cited in the dramatic evacuation last week of a small crew of workers who had stayed behind after the plant's owner pulled most employees from the area. The workers were pulled back March 16 after white smoke began billowing from the reactor and radiation levels spiked.
At the time, the Japanese nuclear safety agency said it suspected damage to No. 3's containment vessel, but a government spokesman the next day said there had been no indication of a "major breach of containment."
That reactor is of particular concern, experts have said, because it is the only one at the plant to use a combination of uranium and plutonium fuel, called MOX, that is considered to be more dangerous than the pure uranium fuel used in other reactors.
Plant workers were also carefully watching the plant's No. 1 reactor, concerned that an increase in pressure noted inside that reactor could be a troublesome sign. Earlier, buildups of hydrogen gas had driven up pressure that led to explosions at three of the nuclear plant's reactors, including the No. 1 unit.
Nishiyama conceded that "controlling the temperature and pressure has been difficult" for that reactor, which on Friday had been declared stable.
The hospitalized employees were working to reconnect power to the No. 3 reactor building when they encountered water that was about 5 inches (15 centimeters) deep. Water rushed over the boots of two workers, who may have received what is called a "beta burn." The third worker had taller boots but was hospitalized as a precaution, according to Nishiyama.
The men were exposed to the water for 40 to 50 minutes, said Tokyo Electric, which owns the plant. The workers may have ignored alarms on devices intended to measure radiation levels, believing the readings to be wrong, said the International Atomic Energy Agency, citing Japanese authorities.
The two workers whose skin was exposed to the contaminated water had the highest levels of radiation recorded so far, the power company said.
One, in his 30s, was exposed to 180.7 millisieverts and the other, in his 20s, tested at 179.37 millisieverts.
Nishiyama said the third man -- who was exposed to 173 millisieverts but at first did not go to the hospital because his boots were high enough to prevent water from touching his skin -- has also gone to the same research hospital out of "an abundance of caution."
Beta rays given off by radioactive substances don't penetrate deeply into materials, including flesh, said Nolan Hertel, a professor nuclear engineering at Georgia Tech. Consequently, the danger is relatively limited, he said.
"Basically, a beta burn would be akin to a bad sunburn," he said.
Some 17 people have been exposed to 100 or more millisieverts of radiation since the plant's crisis began two weeks ago following a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck.
A person in an industrialized country is naturally exposed to 3 millisieverts of radiation a year.
But Japan's Health Ministry recently raised the maximum level of exposure for a person working to address the crisis at the nuclear plant to a rate of 250 millisieverts per year from the previous 100-millisievert standard.
In the Fukushima Prefecture where the plant is located, officials had screened 87,813 people for radiation exposure as of Thursday, NISA said in a news release. Of those 98 people had tested above limits for exposure, but once their clothes were removed and other measures taken, the exposure levels dropped and there was no effect on health.
The agency also said screeners have examined thyroid glands of 66 children ranging in age from 1 to 15 and found that the "level of exposure of no problem."
The thyroid gland, particularly in children, can readily absorb radiation, health experts say.
It's not entirely clear where the contaminants in the water came from, according to Nishiyama. But he said that based on the composition of the radioactive material in the water, the likely source appears to be the reactor core and not the open-air spent fuel pool onto which workers have sprayed tons of water in recent days in an effort to keep it cool.
He said it if the water is from the reactor core, the problem may not be a crack in containment vessel, but rather seepage from vents or valves. The containment vessel is still holding pressure, he said, a sign that it may not be cracked.
The incident raised questions about radiation control measures at the plant as 536 people -- including government authorities and firefighters -- continued working there Friday, according to an official with Tokyo Electric.
The high measure prompted a top official with Nishiyama's agency to urge Tokyo Electric to "improve its radiation management measures."
Workers are undertaking various measures to prevent the further release of radioactive substances into the air and beyond.
Nishiyama said officials hope to start pumping in fresh water -- rather than the corrosive seawater they have been using -- to cool the spent-fuel pool at the No. 1 reactor and other locations.
Such pools have nuclear fuel rods that can emit radiation if the water that normally surrounds them leaks out or boils off, which is more likely to happen without any functional cooling system in place.
Switching to fresh water, instead of seawater, is also a priority for the No. 2 reactor's core (as well as for its spent fuel pool), Nishiyama said. The aim is to prevent further corrosion and damage inside, which may be worsened by the buildup of salt.
A U.S. military barge loaded with fresh water to help cool the reactors left Yokosuka Navy Base at 11 a.m., said Jose Schmitt, commander of Fleet Activities at Yokosuka. A Japanese ship will escort the barge to the Fukushima plant; U.S. personnel are not involved in the escort or distribution of the water, according to Maj. Joseph Macri, a spokesman for U.S. Forces Japan.
The U.S. military assistance follows a request by Japanese government and utility authorities for large amounts of fresh water.
Beyond the seawater/saltwater issue, water in and around the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors had "high radiation levels," Nishiyama said Friday -- though not as high as that of the No. 3 unit.
Thursday's incident has further made the latter reactor a prime focus, and Nishiyama said Friday that "radiation levels are high" in some locales near that unit.
March 24, 2011
Radioactive yellow rain that fell in Tokyo and surrounding areas last night caused panic amongst Japanese citizens and prompted a flood of phone calls to Japan’s Meteorological Agency this morning, with people concerned that they were being fed the same lies as victims of Chernobyl, who were told that yellow rain which fell over Russia and surrounding countries after the 1986 disaster was merely pollen, the same explanation now being offered by Japanese authorities.
“After two days of rain in Tokyo I woke up to a thick coating of this yellow stuff all over my car. What looks like a glare between the glass and the body of the car is actually pollen. My first thought was ewe! Radioactive sludge from Fukushima, but no,” states the comment associated with this You Tube clip.
“The (Japan Meteorological) agency received more than 200 inquiries Thursday morning about yellowish residue left on roofs and elsewhere by the rain, stirring concerns that radioactive substances had fallen after accidents caused by the March 11 quake and tsunami at a nuclear power plant around 220 kilometers northeast of Tokyo,” reports Japan Today.
Officials later suggested the discoloration was caused by air-borne pollen falling with the rain. “The JMA believes the yellow patches are pollen, but has yet to confirm this,” reports the Wall Street Journal, adding that the JMA received over 280 calls after residents in the Kanto region discovered yellow powder on the ground.
“A health official at the Tokyo metropolitan government also said there is a possibility that the rain contained radioactivity but not at a level to have had adverse effects on people’s health,” adds the Japan Today report.
Given the fact that Japanese authorities have been habitually deceptive about the Fukushima crisis from start to finish, assurances that the yellow powder was merely a result of air-borne pollen particles are dubious at best. With people living in Tokyo already being told that tap water is unsafe to drink, along with contaminated vegetables and milk from certain areas near Fukushima, the fact that they were panicked by yellow rain is unsurprising.
Although pollen can turn rain a yellow color, the fact that the phenomenon occurred a couple of hundred kilometers south of the radiation-spewing Fukushima nuclear plant has stoked alarm, and understandably so given the fact that victims of Chernobyl nuclear fallout in 1986 were also told by authorities that yellow rain was harmless pollen, when in fact it was deadly radioactive contamination.
A University of California Daily Bruin article entitled “Remembering Chernobyl,” documents how children in Belarus happily splashed around in puddles of yellow rain having been assured by Russian authorities that it was merely pollen, when in fact it was a toxic mixture of radioactivity that had been blasted from the Chernobyl plant 80 miles away.
Thinking back to 20 years ago, it’s the splashing in yellow rainwater that Antonina Sergieff vividly recalls.The effects of this “pollen” soon confirmed that those puddles of yellow rain contained something far more sinister, namely iodine-131, caesium-137, strontium-90 and plutonium-239.
“We all jumped in the puddles with the yellow stuff. … You don’t see (it in) the air, it doesn’t materialize. But when you see the yellow dust, you see radiation,” Sergieff said.
When these elements first reached Sergieff 20 years ago, they came in the form of yellow rain.
It was not long after that residents in her hometown knew it wasn’t simply “pollen” – which is what government officials assured them, she said.
“Soon, people started losing their hair, pictures of deformed animals sprouted up in independent newspapers, and incidences of cancer in Belarus skyrocketed, Sergieff said. According to the U.N. brief, cases of breast cancer in Belarus doubled between 1988 and 1999, among other increases.”
With levels of radiation emitted by Fukushima now approaching those spewed out by the blast at Chernobyl, as the establishment media bizarrely pretends that the crisis is all but over, seawater samples taken around 330 meters south of the plant confirm that levels of radioactive iodine released are the highest yet recorded.
As we have highlighted, despite UN and World Health Organization studies that claim Chernobyl led to a maximum of 9,000 deaths and 200,000 cases of radiation sickness, more contemporary studies have shown that nearly a million people have been killed from cancers caused by the disaster over the course of the last 25 years.
March 24, 2011
Images from inside the plant at Fukushima.
Radiation from the ongoing disaster in Japan is spreading throughout the United States, and while the EPA says the levels are not dangerous, it also admits that some of its radiation-tracking air monitors may not even be working.
Colorado and Oregon are the latest states to report detection of radioactive particles that have drifted over the North Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima plant, some 5000 miles away.
The EPA announced late yesterday that small amounts of iodine-131, a radioactive form of iodine, has been detected by monitors at Grand Junction, Denver, and Colorado Springs in Colorado.
Iodine-131 was also picked up yesterday by monitors in Portland, Oregon.
Hawaii, California and in Washington State previously reported finding trace amounts of radioactive iodine, cesium, and tellurium.
Three air monitors in California at San Francisco, Riverside and Anaheim, as well as one monitor in Seattle, have identified the isotopes and other radioactive particles.
EPA officials, as well as local public environmental health authorities, have dismissed the notion that there is any serious health threat from the findings.
“Our finding is consistent with findings in Washington and California. We have expected to find trace amounts of the isotopes released from the Japanese plant. There is no health risk,” Gail Shibley, administrator of Oregon’s Office of Environmental Public Health, Oregon Public Health Division, said in a statement.
“The levels we’re measuring are extremely low,” Mike Bandrowski, manager of EPA radiation programs in San Francisco, said in an interview Wednesday. “They’re a fraction of natural background radiation. People should not be concerned.”
“The radiation levels detected on the filters from California and Washington monitors are hundreds of thousands to millions of times below levels of concern.” an EPA statement also suggested.
However, earlier this week, the EPA suggested that some of the air-monitors it is using to obtain radiation readings are “undergoing quality review”.
Out of a total of 124 stationary air-radiation monitors across the country, 22 were described as not working and listed as out of service, according to Ronald Fraass, director of the EPA’s National Air and Radiation Environmental Laboratory in Montgomery, Alabama.
Out of a total of 18 air monitors in California, Oregon and Washington state, the areas of the US most at risk from any spreading radiation, the EPA says 8 are not functioning.
“If a monitor in one area is being repaired, EPA’s network will still be able to detect any fluctuation in background radiation levels,” Brendan Gilfillan, an EPA spokesman, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg News.
As we reported earlier this week, authorities, and even the president himself, first claimed that any radiation from the stricken nuclear plant would completely dissipate, and would not reach the US at all.
Those predictions have proven completely inaccurate as the mainland United States has been blanketed with radioactive Xenon 133 particles and is to be exposed to more dangerous caesium-137 particles.
Health authorities have gone from ambivalently telling Americans not to worry about the situation, to actively discouraging them from obtaining protective potassium iodide pills.
In practically every news article covering the detection of radiation inside the US, the following EPA statement has been quoted:
“In a typical day, Americans receive doses of radiation from natural sources like rocks, bricks and the sun that are about 100,000 times higher than what we have detected coming from Japan. For example, the levels we’re seeing coming from Japan are 100,000 times lower than what you get from taking a roundtrip international flight.”
Earlier in the week, nuclear energy critic and author Hirose Takashi wrote about how asinine this type of statement is:
Around Fukushima Daiichi Station they measured 400 millisieverts – that’s per hour. With this measurement (Chief Cabinet Secretary) Edano admitted for the first time that there was a danger to health, but he didn’t explain what this means. All of the information media are at fault here I think. They are saying stupid things like, why, we are exposed to radiation all the time in our daily life, we get radiation from outer space. But that’s one millisievert per year. A year has 365 days, a day has 24 hours; multiply 365 by 24, you get 8760. Multiply the 400 millisieverts by that, you get 3,500,000 the normal dose. You call that safe? And what media have reported this?
Online Geiger Counter Nuclear Radiation Detector Map
Are your friends panicked by media coverage of the event? Share this page so they can see things are currently normal.
Typical background radiation levels for most of the USA are in the 5 to 28 uR/hr range.
Readings are in uR/hr for Cs137/Co60Only detectors with readings in the last 24 hours are displayed
Note that these are generally run by individuals, and not all readings may be accurate. Do not panic because you see a high reading. Someone could be getting invalid readings.
Also note that readings do fluctuate over time, this is normal for geiger counters. See Variations in Geiger Counter Readings
Treat this for information purposes only, do not make safety decisions based upon it.
Today is: 2011-03-24, and the time is 01:33:13 UTC.
Are your friends panicked by media coverage of the event? Share this page so they can see things are currently normal.
Typical background radiation levels for most of the USA are in the 5 to 28 uR/hr range. Readings can be higher for brief periods of time due to normal variations in radiation levels. They can also be consistently higher for areas at high elevations such as Colorado, or with larger natural deposits of uranium, thorium, radon, etc._________________________________________________________________________ Japanese only ‘estimating’ radiation, not actually measuring
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Admits: ‘We’re Not Able to Measure the Amount of Radiation Coming from Power Plant’
March 23, 2011
In an another astounding clip in the wake of Japan’s nuclear power plant crisis, Yukio Edano, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, admits that they are not actually measuring radiation levels at Fukushima’s nuclear power plant (and cannot accurately do so), but are instead only “estimating” the radiation via the use of a computer simulation model.
This is a fresh admission piling on top of what has already been a cover-up of massive proportions, and coincides with his warning today that infants should not drink the tap water in the surrounding Tokyo area because levels of radioactive iodine are too high. Despite the lack of accurate measurements, the Japan Nuclear Agency reported the highest levels of radiation yet at Fukushima reactor No. 2, as well as ’13 sightings’ of neutron beams. Radiation is reportedly 1,600 times normal levels.
Clip from NHK News in Japan and aired on CNN:
.Clip archived via the dedicated work of MOX News.com
It was clear on March 14 that such a cover-up was underway, as Japanese officials were provably hesitant in admitting that meltdown had occurred, that rods were dangerously exposed, and that further explosions and a possible chain reaction could occur. Further, as recently as March 21, officials were clearly downplaying and covering-up the levels of radiation found in food and sea water. U.S. officials have downplayed radiation levels hitting the West Coast; how long before we discover that things are being covered up state-side as well?
Earlier this week, the TEPCO director dramatically wept, after admitting the radiation levels were enough to kill, and that the true levels of radiation should have been admitted earlier. The Daily Mail writes:
The boss of the company behind the devastated Japanese nuclear reactor today broke down in tears – as his country finally acknowledged the radiation spewing from the over-heating reactors and fuel rods was enough to kill some citizensThe reliance upon computer simulations to estimate radiation levels is a giveaway that faith in “experts” may be misplaced, and is further eerily reminiscent of the lies and propaganda in the anthropomorphic global warming debate. Recall that it emerged in the Climategate scandals that computer simulation models were artificially-manipulated by politically-motivated “scientists” to scare the public and “hide the decline” by inputting unrealistic data points, in part to create the now-ridiculed hockey-stick model and sell the need for their carbon-cutting agenda. Misleading information in Japan’s nuclear crisis could put many lives directly in jeopardy.
Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency admitted that the disaster was a level 5, which is classified as a crisis causing ‘several radiation deaths’ by the UN International Atomic Energy.
He said officials should have admitted earlier how serious the radiation leaks were.
If the Japanese leaders in government, TEPCO and other entities want to restore public confidence and contain the crisis, they must start with honest accounts based on the best available data. Simulation-based estimates are likely insufficient and/or inaccurate, particularly given the long history of Japan’s covering up nuclear disasters.
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